By Martin Evening, New Riders, March 22, 2016, 0134398289

Martin Evening describes how to use Lightroom and to make corrections in Photoshop. I’ve used Photoshop, but never Lightroom. The book is very accessible. There are tons of examples and advice. He includes many explanations about digital photography as well as general concepts about photography.

I learned a lot, and I highly recommend it. I will use the book as a reference, even if I don’t end up using Lightroom or Photoshop.

Thanks to Rob for letting me know about this book, and for the many hours he has spent explaining modern digital photography to me!

[k313] Locations can change dramatically in appearance and are usually at their best when photographed with early morning, late evening, or overcast light.

[k317] Whether you shot using transparency or negative, the ideal way to light was to ensure there was always a background fill of some kind to fill the shadows and use the main lights to provide the light shaping. This practice is still applicable today when you shoot digitally, because having a base fill light gives you the option to pull out or suppress the shadow detail as desired.

[k343] As soon as you import your photographs, you can use the keypad to rate your photos using 0-5 stars as you review them. It is best to do this as close as possible to the time you took the shots.

[k418] Most lenses perform at their best when stopped down to somewhere between f/8 and f/16.

[k422] As you stop down to the smallest aperture setting, the lens sharpness will deteriorate. This is due to light diffraction caused by the small aperture, which softens the contrast so the image appears to be less sharp.

[k426] There is also a school of thought that when shooting with the latest high-resolution sensors, while the sharpness appearance may be diminished at the smallest apertures, an image shot at, say, f/16 or f/22 can be sharpened more at the postprocessing stage to produce a result that looks as sharp as if shot at f/8.

[k433] However, now that sensors have much higher pixel resolutions, that rule needs to be revised so that you will need to at least double the shutter speed. In other words, if shooting with a 50 mm lens, you should aim to shoot using at least 1/100th of a second.

[k440] In practice the technology works well and can give you an extra couple of stops by allowing you to shoot hand-held at what would normally be considered less than ideal shutter speeds.

[k443] Modern image-stabilizing systems work really well, though I prefer to make sure the image stabilization is switched off when shooting with the camera mounted on a tripod, especially if making a long time exposure.

[k457] However, even if a UV filter is high quality, it can have an adverse effect on the image quality.

[k459] But with a wide-angle lens the angle of view toward the edges means light is coming in at an angle through the glass and is therefore refracted more than light coming straight through the central axis at a perpendicular angle.

[k461] Whenever you are shooting with a filter in front of the lens, make sure the glass is kept clean and free of dust, and also be careful when shooting into the sun, because whenever you have a filter placed in front of the lens, it can make the lens flare worse.

[k469] So if your shots aren’t looking as sharp as you’d like them to be when autofocus is enabled, it might come down to the lenses being miscalibrated. Not all cameras allow you to do this, but on professional dSLRs you should find there is a custom menu item that will allow you to compensate for any misalignment in the autofocus system.

[k506] When you shot using a film camera, the color film contained three color-sensitive emulsions laid directly on top of each other. The effects of lateral chromatic aberration were there but more diffuse. With digital cameras, the effects are more noticeable because of the arrangement of the photosites on a camera sensor and the fact that the image is recorded as three distinct color channels of red, green, and blue. Although this makes the lateral chromatic aberration more obvious, it is also easier to fix in postprocessing.

[k510] Axial chromatic aberration can occur where different wavelengths of light are focused at different points in front as well as behind the point of sharpest focus.

[k513] These will typically appear purple or magenta when they’re in front of the plane of focus and green when they’re behind the plane of focus. But even at the exact point of focus, you may sometimes see purple fringes (especially along high contrast or backlit edges), which can be caused by lens flare.

[k520] If the lens you shot with is one that is supported by the Lightroom/Camera Raw lens profile database, this instantly applies a geometric and lens vignetting correction.

[k532] Lens corrections are also available via the Lens Correction filter in Photoshop.

[k533] To use it effectively, you must remember not to crop the image before you apply the filter.

[k535] The Remove Chromatic Aberration option works independently of the lens profile and can be applied to any image, whether it is a full-frame original or has been cropped.

[k609] If you want the best tone image quality, you should set the camera to its optimum, native ISO setting, which may be something like 100, 160, or 200.

[k611] If you set the camera to a lower than native ISO setting, this can be just as bad as selecting a higher ISO, because the photosites on the sensor will become overwhelmed with light and the gain applied to the sensor has to be turned down below the optimal level to compensate. This can result in images that are slightly more grainy.

[k615] As a consequence, the general advice is that when you increase the ISO setting, you should do so by doubling the native ISO. On Canon cameras, the native ISO will most likely be 100, so the best settings to use are 200, then 400, followed by 800. On Nikon cameras, you’ll usually find the native ISO is 160, and therefore optimal settings are 320, then 640, and so on.

[k628] Capture sharpening is basically about applying just the right amount of sharpening to compensate for the inherent lack of sharpness in a raw master image.

[k678] So, there has to be a balance struck between applying enough noise reduction to smooth out any noise that is obtrusive and sharpening the image using the Sharpening controls, which in turn will emphasize any noise that’s still present. The best advice I can give is to start by adjusting the Luminance slider. This can be used to suppress the luminance, or pattern noise that has a film grain type of appearance.

[k780] For practical purposes, 12 bits is all most sensors are actually capable of, though there are exceptions; some of the latest sensors are starting to break through this barrier, and there is a true benefit in being able to capture 14 bits of data. This is because the underlying noise signature is very low, and there is an appreciable difference when shooting at the native ISO setting.

[k795] If you capture an image in JPEG mode, then you will be already limited to the bit depth of the JPEG format, which is 8 bit, which means a camera JPEG capture will always be limited to 256 levels per channel. This is why it is always advisable to shoot in raw mode, because you have not just the freedom to fully edit the Develop settings, but you will preserve much more of the tonal information.

[k804] It can be argued that if you optimize a raw file in Lightroom and export as an 8-bit JPEG or TIFF, while being limited to 256 levels per channel, this will be a fully optimized image in no further need of correction, and therefore 8 bits per channel is more than enough to display such an image on a web page or place it in a print layout.

[k921] When editing raw files, the ideal approach is to carry out as much of the editing as you can in Lightroom and only export the files to Photoshop when it is necessary to retouch them further.

[k1020] Here, I recommend setting the RGB working space to ProPhoto RGB and making sure you have Preserve Embedded Profiles selected in the Color Management Policies section.

[k1028] ProPhoto RGB and its Lightroom variant are ideal spaces to work in, because they allow you to preserve as much color information as possible.

[k1033] If distributing photos for web use, you will definitely want to convert to sRGB when you export.

[k1243] Personally, I believe it is better to let the catalog file store the metadata edits rather than constantly overwrite the files referenced by the catalog. If you are in the habit of saving metadata edits to the files themselves as well, this is an important consideration, but you need to ask yourself, “In an emergency, when I need to restore all my metadata edits, which is going to be the most up-to-date? The metadata stored in the files, or the metadata stored in the catalog?”

[k1265] Of course, anything you do in Lightroom is stored as instructional edits, and the master files are left untouched.

[k1770] At the same time you have to bear in mind the optimum exposure setting is the point at which you can expose an image without clipping the highlights.

[k1774] In order to make a digital capture look like a recognizable image, a gamma-correcting curve has to be applied to the raw data. This is essentially a midpoint lightening adjustment, which effectively stretches the shadow levels further apart and compresses the highlight levels closer together.

[k1778] And, as a result of the gamma correction, most of the levels information will be compressed in the highlights, while fewer levels will be available to edit the shadow areas.

[k1888] Once you add up to five pins or more, you may see a significant slowdown in the Lightroom Develop module performance. Elsewhere in the program, Lightroom does not have a problem managing images that contain complex brush edits. This is because the other Lightroom modules all reference cached preview files instead.

[k2030] Some photographers prefer to crop in camera. Using this approach can be a good discipline, but it limits you to the aspect ratio of the camera frame.

[k2033] I come from a commercial photography background, where I learned how important it is to leave a little spare room in your photographs.